hoofed, herbivorous mammal of the genus Equus,
closely related to the horse
. It is distinguished from the horse by its small size, large head, long ears, and small hooves. There are two living species: Equus hemonius,
the Asian ass, and E. asinus,
the African ass. The latter species includes the domesticated variety, E. asinus asinus,
commonly known as the donkey. A male ass is called a jackass and a female, a jenny. Wild asses are swift desert animals that may attain speeds of up to 40 mi (60 km) per hr. They live in herds of up to 1,000 animals.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.